From Cumberland County, Nova Scotia to Orono Maine, the road to Division I Women’s Hockey has been long and winding for Carly Jackson.
Jackson’s journey in game started like so many other young Maritimer’s.
“My first recollection of being on skates was on the outdoor rink that my dad built,” Jackson said proudly.
A lot has happened since those early experimental days on the back yard rink and Jackson’s first foray between the pipes.
The long and winding to college hockey is nearing an end for the Black Bears star netminder.
“I think this season has been special because of the group we have,” Jackson said.
“We had a slow start and things were really frustrating especially because games weren’t going our way and we weren’t getting the results we wanted.”
Pride and character propelled Jackson and the Black Bears out of their early season funk.
“The way we’ve played since coming back from break has been incredible, we’ve found ways to get points through ties and wins that’s helped us to secure a playoff spot and build on our confidence,” Jackson said proudly.
Resiliency, passion and a relentless willingness to never quit is at the heart of the 2019-2020 Black Bears.
“We’re a team that’s built to never give up, the majority of our games this year have been decided by one goal and we have an overtime game almost every weekend, sometimes two.”
“It’s extraordinary to be a part of this group and I take a lot of pride in how this team works.”
The final chapters have yet to be written, but Jackson is trying to take it all in stride while staying in the moment.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and player at Maine.”
“I’ve learned how to be at my best for myself, but more importantly for my team. This year I’ve gotten a better grasp of how to control parts of my own game, but also how to influence and help my teammates when I can.”
Spoken like a true veteran and monumental leader.
Now more than ever Jackson understands the nuances of the position and her place in the game.
“I think it’s easy to get caught up in only focusing on one or the other. An example is when you only focus on your game and you shut off all other distractions, yes you are focusing on your skills, but you’re missing out on the relationship and trust you build within your team.”
“You can get caught up in what everyone else is doing and forget the own parts of your game and life you needs to get in check. Finding this balance between working on my own skill sets and helping to lead this team go hand in hand with doing what is best for the team,” she said.
Jackson has mastered the balancing act and has excelled between the pipes surpassing the franchise games played record earlier this season.
Nevertheless, life behind the mask can be lonely and the pressure can be unbearable at times. The spotlight is relentless and always shines bright on the smallest mistakes.
Being comfortable in the blue paint and within your own skin is the quintessential framework of any netiminder.
“I try to lead by example so working on my own game and doing that everyday, but reaching out and speaking up when I need to was something that was outside of my comfort zone at the beginning of this season and has really helped in my development as a player and a person.”
The battle tested Black Bears are ready to impose their will on their competition as the Hockey East Playoff push all gets underway this weekend.
“We’re definitely planning on a big playoff push this year and I’m thrilled to get it started this weekend,” said Jackson.
While Jackson is fixated on a long playoff run, the Amherst, Nova Scotia product is quick to serve up advice to other young women looking at following their hockey dreams south of the border.
“My advice to young players considering the US college route is to be the hardest worker in the room and that you are your biggest advocate,” explained Jackson.
“Go the extra mile in everything you do, from your education, family, friends, and athletics.”
“Don’t just work hard at being an athlete, work hard at being a good person.”
“Building good habits and a good work ethic will do wonders for you in all aspects of life.”
“Secondly, have confidence and take pride in what you do, reach out to schools, ask questions, find the answers you want to get where you want to be.”
“No one will do it for you, but it’s something that’s within reach.”
“If I could make it here so could they.”
“I hope that my story can be an example for any aspiring athletes who hope to play in the NCAA.”
The road less travelled is often the most rewarding and Carly Jackson can certainly attest to that.
“Playing in the NCAA has been one of the greatest joys of my life.”
“I’ve been blessed with a family and a second home in Orono.”
“One of the best things about playing here at Maine has been the support and relationships I’ve built with the people I’ve interacted with here,” said a reflective Jackson.
“I am blessed to be playing a sport I love everyday, studying something I am passionate about, and surrounded by people that I care about.”
Jackson’s five-year journey is drawing to an end.
What does it mean to have played with so many friends and how special is the group of seniors this season?
“The group of seniors that will be graduating this year is extraordinary.”
“I will be forever grateful for is the life long friendships I’ve gained here.”
“I have so many laughs and memories with everyone I’ve played with and it’s something that will always bring us together.”
“I’ve been blessed to have a family with this team and I think we’ll always be connected through the experiences and hard work we’ve put in together over the years.”
“We were here when we struggled and didn’t make playoffs during our freshman season, to the historic sophomore year we had.”
“It was tough last year when we didn’t make playoffs again, but to rise back up and battle back to make it where we are now is something that we’ve worked for four and five years.”
“It’s not surprising to me that we are now in a position where we are playing well as a group heading into playoffs.”
“I know it’s a result of the “never give up” attitude we’ve always had and the work we put in each and everyday over all these years.”
“This senior group has pretty much seen it all in terms of success and failures, and I think that experience will help lead this team to a Hockey East Championship.”
“I love this group of people that I have the pleasure of working with everyday.”
“I’m forever grateful for this life changing experience, and I’m appreciating everyday I have being a Black Bear.
The final chapter of Jackson’s illustrious career is yet to written.
A true professional on and off the ice, Jackson is weighing all her options when the ride comes to an end.
“I hope to continue to play professionally while earning my Masters degree.”
“I’m still in the process of seeing what opportunities arise, but I will focus more on that once the season is over.”